Upon commitment to DYS (within the first 30 to 45 days), youth receive a comprehensive assessment that assimilates the family involvement, educational history, prior criminal record, presence or absence of substance abuse, medical and psychiatric history, and review of risk factors related to offending. Following the assessment phase, an individual treatment and service plan is developed and the youth is assigned placement in a residential or community based setting.

The clinical focus in the secure treatment residential programs is to rehabilitate the youth by preparing him or her to rejoin their community by teaching pro-social attitudes and behaviors through a cognitive behavioral approach. Youth participate in clinical interventions that emphasize the learning of new skills to ameliorate risk factors and to support acquisition of positive behaviors. Their treatment is monitored by criteria driven behavioral goals. The youth graduates from the program when he/she has acknowledged his/her criminal behaviors, has an understanding of what lead up to their offending, has developed a relapse plan to avoid future criminal actions, and has demonstrated a pattern of consistent pro-social behaviors in confinement.

In addition to secure treatment facilities, the Department has several community residential programs, all of which provide clinical and educational services that emphasize accountability and pro-social skill development. These residential programs vary in length and in treatment specialty focus. For instance, some residential programs focus more on substance abuse issues, whereas some of the 766 programs offer more remedial educational services. However, all residential programs are consistent in using a cognitive behavioral approach, which emphasizes planning for community re-entry.

When the youth returns to the community, clinical services are provided through the day reporting and neighborhood centers. Services provided vary in the different sites but many offer counseling in the following areas: anger management, substance abuse, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy(DBT), pro-social skill groups, teen dating violence prevention, and parenting skills. When a youth needs counseling services that are not offered through their DYS community site, these services are provided by community mental health centers funded by the Commonwealth and third party insurance coverage.

This information is provided by the Department of Youth Services.